Darting Game Rules: 301 + 501 Cricket


General rules of darting are listed below, with specific rules for each game below: 

  • Each player has a turn consisting of 3 darts.
  • To determine who begins, each player throws one dart at the bullseye. The player with the closest dart to the bullseye throws first. Sometimes a coin toss determines who throws first.
  • All thrown darts count, but darts that miss the dartboard, fall from or bounce off the dartboard receive no score and cannot be thrown again until the next turn.

A dart that sticks into another dart counts as a thrown dart but receives no score. (but it feels pretty cool) 

  • The score is determined by the point of entry of the dart based on the wire divisions, not the color.

The most popular dart games are 301, 501 and Cricket. Let’s dive into the rules and gameplay of each below. 

scoring area



  • Before any score is counted, the player must begin by hitting a double: This means any dart between the two wires on the outer rim of the board denoting the doubles area, or by hitting the double bull. Once a double is thrown, that dart and subsequent darts will count in the score.
  • The score of each dart thrown is subtracted from the player's current score, beginning with 301. The inner rings count double while the outer ring counts triple the indicated number.
  • The winner must reduce their score to exactly zero with the last dart being a double: For example, if the player has 32 left to reach zero, then the player must hit double 16. If a single 16 is scored, the player must then hit a double 8, and so on.
  • If the player scores more than the exact score needed, the whole turn of three darts does not count and the player's score remains as it was before that turn was taken. For example, if 16 is required and the player scores 17 their score remains at 16. If 15 is hit, the turn does not count because you cannot go out on a single 1.


*Note: In soft-tip darts while playing 301 or 501, a double to begin and end the game is not always required. So, you may begin and end the game with a triple, double or single number 



The 501 game is played exactly like 301, except that a double is not required to begin scoring and the score is subtracted from 501. The requirement of a double to finish is the same as 301. 



The game of Cricket differs from 501 and 301 because there is more strategy involved.  In addition, to simply scoring, a player can hinder their opponents efforts to score. 

  • The general principle of the game of Cricket is to "close" the numbers 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and bullseye by scoring three hits in each number. A player may score hits for a number at any time prior to the number being closed out. These numbers, including bullseye may be closed in any order. A score in the triple or double area scores 3 or 2 respectively for that number.
  • Once three hits are scored in a number, the number is then "closed" and additional darts score points only if the other player has not yet scored their three.
  • 3 The opponent player cannot receive points on a number a player has closed but can prevent the player from scoring additional points when the opponent player has scored three hits and closed that number. 
  • 4 To win the game, all numbers 20 through 15 and bullseye must be closed before the opponent player closes them. However, if a point deficit exists, it must be made up by scoring points in the opponents open numbers. 


A double is required to finish 301 and 501. Players should try to create the easiest out shots by working the score towards specific numbers. This means knowing the combinations of scoring required to finish on the doubles. 

The best number to shoot for is 32, because it is the only number that still leaves a double all the way down to 2 if the player misses and hits the single. For example, if a double 16 is missed and a single 16 is hit, the player can still finish with a double 8. And if the player hits single 8, then the player can go out on double 4 and so on to double 1.  

Complete familiarity with the numbers and their positions on the board will enable a player to shoot without hesitation and maintain rhythm. Learn the various combinations and practice subtracting after each dart thrown. 

Ways To Finish

Ways to finish in darts

Ways to finish darts

Ways to finish darts